Conversation at Night With a Despised Character
  • By Isla VT
  • |
  • 6th Aug 2014
  • |
  • ★★★

In a totalitarian state, a writer of controversial literature is about to be killed by an executioner, and he’s expecting him. What follows is a conversation between the two considering death, life, and habit, before the executioner’s fatal task takes place. Judging by the accents, this production was set in Russia, one assumes in the time of the Soviet Union. Simply set – cardboard boxes, chairs and few props - the most complex part is the wordy and philosophical script, which at times I felt would have been more enjoyable to read than to see onstage. Due to this wordiness, the pace of the production and the dialogue between the two characters tended to drag a little, weighed down by heavy ideas. In addition, the accents, which for the most part were well executed, seemed to limit the vocal expression of the actors, making it a little monotonous at times.

The strong performances of the cast, who were credible and consummate throughout, are the best thing about this production.

However, on the whole the performances of the two actors were excellent – bringing out moments of humour, passion, desperation, and the struggle of power. The energy and tension was a little lacking at first between the two actors, but it gradually built to be engaging and effective. The script had moments of intrigue and beautiful speeches, but did not always hold my attention – this is a play in which nothing much happens at all. The strong performances of the cast, who were credible and consummate throughout, are the best thing about this production. It would benefit, perhaps, from greater tension between the characters and more varied blocking, as the actors were often static, making the long winded speeches drag all the more.

If you are looking to see two talented actors performing a dense and philosophical discussion about death and execution in a totalitarian state, then you will love this. 

Reviews by Isla VT

Assembly Roxy

Calypso Nights

Just The Tonic at the Caves

Shooting the White Eagle

C venues - C nova

We Never Land

Greenside @ Nicolson Square


C venues - C nova

The Devil Without


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Friedrich Durrenmatt's tale of a subversive writer in a totalitarian state visited by an executioner sent by the regime to kill him. Translation by Robert David Macdonald. The Refuge Theatre is a veteran artists' haven created for work off the beaten path; a back-to-the-basics return to acting utilizing the dramatic one-act form: begin with an empty room then experiment, develop, and build from an artist's lifetime of instincts and experiences. The Refuge is an organic gathering of skills, possibilities, and love of craft.

Most Popular See More

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets